Time to lighten up a bit. 

Things have been a bit serious on the blog as of late. Life provided much fodder for reflection and contemplation. I feel it’s time to lighten things up again, and what better way to do that than to focus on some of the absurdity that surrounds us.

That is, of course, a subjective opinion. What is common place and normal here would not strike the locals as absurd. But for those of us, still in a “fish out of water” state, there are things that strike us as curious on a daily basis.

I think there is a general impression of sophistication about life in Europe. Chanmpagne and prosciutto on the train, sipping Gluhwein at any time of day for the entire month of December, handmade Italian leather shoes and designer handbags, undesputably top-drawer style living.

Fur lined benches provided at the rink. That is a sophistication Canada should adopt.

So when something contradicts this, it is so perplexing.

Take grocery shopping for example. Still a significant portion of my every day life here. There is an absurdity to this routine that is comical. Collecting your groceries is standard, lovely displays, tempting selections, all good. It’s when you pay that things fall apart.

Here’s the till. Do you see the 3 sandwiches? They display the entire counter space available to hold your groceries once they’ve been rung through. In other words, there is no counter space. Instead, you must sprint back and forth with your rung-through items, to the counter at the back of the store. Back and forth 4-5 times with as many groceries as you can clutch while the cashier wrings them through at rapid fire speed.
My load, piled on the counter. Thankfully with a teeny-tiny fridge, you really can’t purchase groceries for more than a days worth of meals. Once you have your load successfully piled at the back counter and you’ve returned to the till to pay, you being to UNPACK your items.
Unpack you say? Yes. Because garbage/recycling is such a strict and controlled art here, no one wants to accumulate unnecessary items in their home. So they unpackage their groceries, right there in the store, leaving the excessive packaging behind. It’s hilarious and in my opinion far from sophisticated.

The fact that I leave the grocery store a bit sweaty and flustered from all the effort feels decidedly unsophisticated too.

The other thing that makes me feel sweaty is seeing the deep-Arctic wear that is commonplace now that the temperature has dropped below 10 degrees.

This is typical. Full parka Canada Goose coats are worn by everyone here. It’s 7 degrees and raining. What will they wear when in actually gets cold? The truth is, wearing them isn’t about staying warm but rather an opportunity to showcase that one can afford to spend nearly 900CHF on a coat. Madness.

The facades of the Swiss homes hold exceptional importance in how a Family presents themselves. They are typically emaculate, styled and timeless.

Look how pretty our neighbour’s home is. Creates the impression that perfect happiness lives inside. You’ll never be invited inside to know if it’s true. Privacy is everything.

The exterior displays are always so enviable and sophisticated until the family has a baby…

When a child is born, a large, cartoonish wooden sign is affixed to the house to announce the birth. The sign will stay there for the better part of that first year. For a society that values privacy and sophistication, this seems like an absurd contradiction.

 

Now if this child grows up and hopes to have a little fun in his neighbourhood he’d better think twice.

Don’t even think about having fun here. There will possibly never be enough snow to properly go sledding but even if there was, no sir. It might get disorderly after-all.
Sledding and general Tom-foolery are not permitted on this hilly slope (same grass we were yelled at for walking on) but pop-up consumerism is just fine. In their defense, they were the yummiest carrots and beets ever!

 

The appearance of rampant graffiti and discarded chewing gum on EVERY outdoor surface shows that not everyone is attempting to uphold a reputation of orderliness and sophistication.

This is inside the arena. This is nothing compared to outside.
Image result for sidewalk gum switzerland
This is outside. It’s all gum. It’s everywhere and it’s so gross. And so seemingly unswiss. Considering they’re all wearing hand-made Italian leather shoes, why do they risk it?
Image result for graffiti switzerland
Swiss society is so perfect that graffiti is the only acceptable form of rebellion.

To borrow an excerpt from Diccon Bewes’s book Swiss Watching, here is his take on the graffiti issue:

“…Graffiti seems to be the Swiss disease…What mystifies me is why the Swiss put up with the graffiti. Everyone I talk to about it seems to shrug their shoulders and say that it’s a fact of life. And this in a country where there are strict rules about everything from rubbish bags to Sunday DIY. Switzerland works so well and is so clean precisely because the rules are there and are strictly enforced, often by communal will. But when it comes to graffiti, the rules seem to go out the window. Sprayers, as they are known in Swiss German as well, appear to be treated far more leniently than someone whose car is parked slightly over the blue line. Very odd.”

Not to appear self righteous – we definitely contribute our own level of absurdity to this mess. I am confident that people are shaking their heads in contempt at us far more than I am aware. It’s full circle.

For instance, just this week I attempted to make a favourite dessert from back home as the special Friday treat. Having successfully smuggled the chocolate wafers here from my recent trip to Canada, I was excited to make the kids chocolate log.

It was an epic fail.

Chocolate log, as it should appear.
Such pretty presentation once you cut into it.
Nailed it!

Never in my life have I failed so epically at a fool-proof dessert. Thank heavens I hadn’t invited company to share in this humiliated culinary disaster.

A special absurdity in our home this week is a whole lot more pleasant. Every morning as I depart to work Manolo says “buy yourself something pretty today.” Inevitably I don’t. He has become fed up with my inability to spend money on myself so he has taken matters into his own hands. He is now providing flowers on what is becoming a fairly regular basis.

Look at the absurd beauty of these roses! I’ve never seen anything quite like them. They’re spectacular.
The colour is astounding!

Might be sneaky on my part but I plan to keep holding out on the shopping if it means I’ll get fresh flowers every week. 15 years of marriage and I finally figured out the trick to fresh flowers.
Today’s absurdity came courtesy of hockey and Manolo’s cousin Andreas. The game was at an arena where the transit schedule includes a fairly long walk to arrive at the destination. The forecast today was blustery, cold and totally miserable. (Who’s wishing for a giant parka now!?)

Andreas loaned us his car. It felt like a total luxury to arrive at hockey in our own wheels today.

Go ahead and park on the sidewalk – seems very unswiss too.
Our wheels to the game – just a smidge bigger than the hockey bag!

 

Here’s to making it through another week and all the absurdity waiting for us in the next one.

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